Moving to STX
My husband and I are looking to move to STX in the spring of 2009. We have been vacationing there for the past 7 years and just love it. We also have to children ages 5 and 7. We were wondering if anyone could provide some helpful information in helping the move go smoother? We currently live in Delaware. Would it be easier to just sell our house and make arrangements to rent and then find a house to buy or try and buy a house before we go? Also does anyone know of any information on jobs on the island for an engineer in HVAC. My husband is an engineer in that field and he is currenlty trying to get some connections to find a job. We also heard of the new resort being built, does anyone know if it has been started yet or when and any conact info on that? Also is there any info out there about the Captain Morgan plant? Well if anyone could provide some helpful information that would be great. I am currently doing some research on the moving process. Please advise of any good tips.
The best advice one can give you is to 1) go to the home page of this website and read all the information there (it will take days or even weeks of your time) including the Relocation stories, 2) Get a copy of the settler's Handbook and read that cover to cover, 3) Read through the 1,000's of posts on this forum - you are not the first person to contemplate moving to the USVI's and just about every conceivable question you may have has been discussed numerous times, 4) Plan on making a pre-move visit to check things out from the point of view of living on the island not visiting on vacation.
Now some other answers - The consensus is you are better off renting for a while before you buy. It will give you a chance to find which areas on the island are most suited to your lifestyle. I can't tell you about the availability of HVAC jobs as that's not my line of work but there are plenty of A/C units on the island and they do need servicing. What I can tell you is it is infinitely easier to find a job once you are on island than trying to do it long distance. Again scroll thorugh the archives on this forum for discussions regarding how to find employment - use the search feature to find threads dealing with HVAC jobs - they are there all you need do is find them.
Good luck with your quest.
You might hate it after a year so personally, I wouldn't sell your house in DE right now. Besides, the market's not that great in the States at the moment. Can you rent it out? Just rent in STX until you figure out where you'll be working & what areas you like. Usually, there's not much luck finding a job when you're off-island unless your skills are really scarce here.
New resorts usually don't spring up overnight down here so don't count on that at the moment.
Thanks for the advice. I have been reading on the site. For example we were going to ship my vehicle but then I read about the expense to get it there and all the fees associated with it when the vehicle arrived. We thought we might just be better off breaking the lease on it and just buying something there. I figured it may be better for us to rent for a month or two before we found anything. My husband would like to come down in a month or two and maybe meat with a real estate agent and see what would be best for us. Do you think that sounds like a good idea? I am just so overwhelmed. I am a stay home mom so I have the time and have been doing so on researching everything I can.
In reference to another writer stating I should keep my home in Delaware and rent it out, I do not think we could offord to do that. Like they said the market for housing stinks right now but our house would not go up on the market until early spring and hopefully it will bounce back just a little bit by then. We will just have to wait and see. If there is any other advice, again please advise. I really appreciate everything I have gotten so far. Can anyone recommend a certain area on the island to live in? We are very familiar with the island and locations. We know we cannot afford anything on the east end so as well please advise on that as well.
I will second or third the idea of not buying for a while. I also agree with not selling your DE home. First, and foremost, a lot of people get here and find they don't like it, for a number of reasons. That said, lots of people love it, like me! In your research ,on this forum, you will find all the reasons.
A couple more points. I doubt you could ship a leased car if you wanted to. If you break the lease, will that mess up your credit? I don't know about that stuff, but find out.
I don't think you should even think about buying until you have been here a while, like a year or two, NOT a month or two. Without getting too personal, did you mean you can't afford not to sell your DE home because you need the equity to buy something here? If you don't buy here for a year or so, you don't need the equity. See where I am going? I doubt the market will change by spring. Not sure why I say that, except the politics of the US are about as messed up as ours right now.
Since you have been researching, you have probably figured out you might want to consider private school for the kids. That's expensive. I doubt your husband will have a problem getting a job. He might even want to apply at Hovensa, and if hired, depending on the position, they might help with the moving expenses, kids' schools, etc. I don't really know what they will pay for whom, but I know they do that type of thing.
Do not buy. And if you talk to a real estate agent 90% of them will tell you to buy. Do not base your decisions on what a sales person tells you. Rent for a year. Our market is slow too but unlike stateside our prices have not come down that much. If you don't have a job and really don't understand all the little expenses that make it so expensive to live here (making less income is one) it could be really dangerous to buy as well. You could find a older two or three bedroom condo under 300k but finding a house in a good neighborhood, in decent shape would be harder for that. And add 3% hurricane insurance to anything you look at except condos that's usually included in your monthly fees, which start at about 800 a month for the size condo you would need.
Its very hard for families to make it here, especially coming down cold with no job. The expense of school alone might make your property taxes seem very cheap. Afriend made excellent suggestions. I know your a stay home mom and that can be a very overwhelming job but try to stay up late after the kids have gone to sleep and read as much as you can. Every time you don't understand a thread post a question.
Analyst are not predicting a bounce back in 2009 for the housing market but every city is different so try to research your area. Renting out your house at a small loss still might be better. I really really wish I had done that, not because I don't like it here but it gives you options and palm springs went through the roof again after we left. Many many people find it hard to make it here for many many different reasons. Some don't like the culture, some can't afford it, some are bored here, and on and on.
Don't burn any bridges back home based on some wonderful vacations. We vacation here before we moved here 7 years ago. Its not the same, our first year was very bumpy. And frankly we would have gone back if he didn't have a contract, but I am glad we stayed now. It's a difficult adjustment for most after the "honeymoon" period wears off.
Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has replied. I guess in the big picture here I have learned not to buy right away and rent. How do I go about searching for housing with three bedrooms for monthly rentals? If anyone could provide websites that would be great.
Betty- Thanks for being so honest and the advice. Did you move with children?
Yes I have researched the schooling and I know it would be expensive to send our boys to private school.
Juanita- My husband has applied several times to Hovensa and ofcourse he has not been succesful. We believe due to we are not living on the island. The perks of getting an exempt job there and all the benefits of the schooling, moving expenses and etc. are great. He will just have to keep pursuing that road and I believe he just found a posting for them he was sending a resume for. Last year he applied to the college, there was a job available in his field and ofcourse we did not live on the island, they were not too interested. Well keep all he advice comming. I love reading all the good stuff.
No I did not. But I am of the age where all of my girlfriends do. And I love kids....other peoples kids, I can spoil them and send them home.
The moving center will give you a general idea of homes, expect to pay at least $1500, I would say around $2k is more avg for a good neighborhood (these will usually never include electric). Thats on the lower end of the spectrum. If you give yourself at least a month to find a rental you may even find something cheaper. West end rentals are generally cheaper but you can find a good deal anywhere. And if you have a month you'll be able to talk to people and find out where you want to live and hopefully have a job and know which school you want to send the kids too. If you can make do with a two bedroom thats even better and why not suffer a little to save money and find out if you really want to be here. Don't blow your nest egg while here, many people go through too much of their savings living here.
Their are not many websites that posts rentals, carribean craiglist is one, this website under classifeds is another. Some of the realors will put ones on their websites but they are usually not updated that often or are pricey. To get the best deals you must be here. Most people put their rentals in the paper or post a sign outside their home. Also word of mouth is great here. Talk to everyone you can while here. If nothing else most people here are happy to help newcomers and its a great way to make friends that you will need here.
Hovensa works with many subcontractors and they usually provide a housing allowance for their workers, some also give a food per diem, etc..
To Betty- I have been doing some searching on long term rentals or month to month rentals and have found some information. Do you happento know any of Hovensa's subcontractor's they use? Or atleast ofcourse the names of the companies. Well thanks again and I will keep doing my researching and if you do not micd if I have any more quesions, can I refer to you to help? I really appreciate your input. Thanks again!!!
When deciding whether to keep your house in Deleware or sell before moving, ask yourself the question: Would you want to move back to that same place if you found you didn't want to continue with island life? Not everyone opts to go back to where they moved from even if they do leave island. Many people who move here have made multiple moves on the mainland and don't necessarily see their current location as "home" as far as a place of great interest to return to someday. If you would want to go back to that house and neighborhood, then maybe it would be worth looking into the feasibility of holding onto it until you have been here a while. If you don't want to go back there in any event, then you might as well sell before complicating your life further.
When deciding whether to buy a house before moving or after you have been here a while, it is a wise family who speaks with a good mortgage broker about the scenarios they face in their personal situation. Some people will always have the funds and income level to be able to buy whenever they decide they want to. Others could buy a house here as a "second home" using their mainland income to qualify for the mortgage before they move but might not be able to buy if they wait until they have been here a year as their work history and time of employment and overall income may not meet the underwriting requirements, especially now that they are tightening up.
Many people change jobs when they move here and most lenders require several years of job history within the same industry as a requirement for a loan. As a Realtor, I have seen families shocked at being unable to buy after their first "trial year" comes to an end and they have settled into the island well and are tired of paying rent. They have assets and income, but still can't meet underwriting requirements for other reasons. I can provide you with contact info for a really competent mortgage broker in Florida who underwrites loans here and she can discuss your personal situation with you and explain whether this potential issue is one you would face and help you develop a long-term strategy for when to make a purchase.
I'd agree with Betty that if you rent to start with and you have two young boys, that you can save quite a lot of $$ by renting a 2-BDR house or condo. There are fewer 3 and 4-BDR rentals and the prices are quite a bit more as well as having higher energy requirements and taking more of your time to clean, etc. You will spend less time in the house than you do in a cold climate, so smaller spaces don't seem as limiting. Your boys won't have to stay inside all winter and drive you crazy if you don't have the ability to send them to separate rooms. I have 3 sons myself, so I have been there! lol
If you are already fairly familiar with the island, you are probably aware that most of the schools where you would be likely to send your sons are in the central sector, or possibly to Good Hope on the southwest shore. If you homeschool, the location of where you live isn't quite as dramatically important to the logistics of your life on-island, but if you need to commute your children to and from school and activities, then living centrally can be a big savings of time and gas. Your husband's line of work is likely to have him all over the island or maybe eventually working on a development project in a single location. A centrally located home still works to his advantage. Selecting a neighborhood is a very personal thing as different people have different reactions to the same neighborhoods. If you and/or your husband can come down this fall to explore the island with an eye towards living here rather than just coming on vacation, that would be highly beneficial to your plans.
You haven't said if you plan to bring pets with you to the island. This is a complication many families do a lot of research to deal with. Pets limit the properties you would be able to rent as well as increase the rate you'd likely be charged.
A leased vehicle would indeed be extremely complicated to get permission to bring to the islands. Many people have trouble bringing vehicles they are buying with a loan if the lender won't give them a letter granting permission to ship the vehicle.
The several resorts you have mentioned are all still in design/planning/permit stages and nothing is approved and ready to break ground in the near future. It has long been hoped that at least one would break ground before the end of the year. The Williams & Punch project north of Frederiksted seems the most likely in that regard as they have had their permit applications and scientific study results in for a long time and there should eventually be some public meetings with permits to follow. Even if some elements of their plan require revisions, there would likely be areas approved to start earth moving. HVAC is still a ways out.
I just want to thank everyone for there advice and input on the subject. Everyting has been very helpful in our decision to move and the decisions we would be making if and when we move. I really appreciate everything and this site and the people have been great. Again thanks to everyone.
Alexandra- Thank you for your indepth input and information. It has been very helpful to our family.
Again thanks to everyone and this website it just great.
Hello everyone. It has been a while since I have been on the site. We are still thinkning of moving to the island in the srping. My husband goes on line everyday and reads the St. Croix Source. We have been keeping an eye on things. Does anyone currently at this time have any new information on the Resort?
This article is all I've seen.
The Army corp's of Engineers still needs to sign off on moving the road and that will probably take a while since it is an important road. There are also still issues with the dredging inland for a harbor as well as other environmental impact problems. Just because the permit application for CZM is "complete" it doesn't mean it will be accepted. I wouldn't move here in the Spring with the hope of getting a construction job for the williams and punch project...move for other reasons, and other jobs, just don't hinge everything on this development.:)